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Wisconsin volleyball: freshman Devyn Robinson emerging as another weapon

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The freshman middle blocker has impressed early on and is earning the trust of her older teammates.

UW Athletics Communications

Before last weekend’s season opening series against Purdue, Wisconsin head coach Kelly Sheffield said he didn’t know who exactly would be in the starting lineup.

Freshman Devyn Robinson earned her first start in the Friday evening contest against Purdue, and immediately made her presence felt and might’ve claimed a spot in that starting lineup. The talented freshman had nine kills in her first game. Then seven more in her second.

Robinson’s emergence has added even more firepower to the No. 1 Wisconsin Badgers (2-0 Big Ten, 2-0 overall), and she is already earning rave reviews from her teammate, senior setter Sydney Hilley.

“It was super cool to see Devyn go out in her first match as a freshman and absolutely dominate,” Hilley said.

Although it was Robinson’s first ever game, she came in with quite a pedigree. The Ankeny, Iowa native was a three-time All-State honoree and was named to the 2019 Under Armour All-American First Team. The middle blocker also played for the 2018 and 2019 USA Volleyball Girls Youth National Team, winning gold medals at the 2018 NORCECA Championship in Honduras and 2019 World Under 18 Championships in Egypt.

With that background, Robinson clearly flashed the potential in the program — Sheffield noted that Robinson could be a “big time player” — but starting in her first ever college match was still a big moment for her.

“It was honestly a surreal feeling. I’d been waiting over a year to play my first college match, and finally getting to play it against a great team was just an amazing feeling,” Robinson said.

The bright lights certainly didn’t phase Robinson as she provided the crucial attacking outlet for Wisconsin but also performed well on defense. Sheffield said she had the mentality of wanting to own the net which shown as Robinson had five blocks in her first two games.

Her performances already give senior setter Sydney Hilley the trust that Robinson will be ready in the big moments.

“I have this absolute faith that she is gonna put the ball down,” Hilley said.

That faith from her setter is something Robinson gained by working hard all throughout the long offseason. Hilley said the whole team was so happy to see Robinson get those first couple kills because of how much she worked during the pandemic.

But Robinson won’t be resting on her laurels. The Badgers are getting ready for their second series this weekend against the Illinois Fighting Illini (2-0, 2-0), who swept the Iowa Hawkeyes last weekend, and Robinson will be hoping to keep up the play and help Wisconsin get the win.

“It’s a great feeling to already have Syd’s trust and I don’t want to break it, so I’m gonna keep working hard so we keep winning like we have been,” Robinson said.

First serve against Illinois is at 3:00 p.m. CST on Friday and 11:00 am CST on Saturday.